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Clin Cardiol. 1990 Mar;13(3):190-6.

Value of notching and slurring of the resting QRS complex in the detection of ischemic heart disease.

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Department of Medicine, St. John Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.


The resting 12-lead ECG has long been known to be an insensitive marker of underlying ischemic heart disease (IHD). The purpose of this study was to determine if QRS complex notching and slurring is of significant value as a diagnostic discriminator in the detection of IHD. The data from 205 consecutive patients coming to cardiac catheterization for evaluation of probable IHD were initially analyzed. Eighty-three patients were excluded based upon ventricular hypertrophy, bundle-branch block, lack of data, and pacemaker rhythm. The balance, 122 patients (mean age 61.7 years), were evaluated for angiographic evidence of IHD, ECG findings of QRS notching or slurring, and abnormal Q waves. The data revealed a high prevalence of QRS notching or slurring; 62.2% in those patients with IHD, double the prevalence of significant Q waves (33.3%). The two markers had an approximately equal prevalence (QRS notching or slurring 61.7% vs. Q waves 53.2%) in patients with angiographic evidence of infarction; however, in patients with less than infarct criteria for IHD, the prevalence of QRS notching or slurring was 62.8%, while only 11.6% showed abnormal Q waves. Analysis indicated that QRS notching or slurring has a sensitivity of 62.2% and a specificity of 93.8% for the detection of IHD. The study demonstrates that QRS notching or slurring is a moderately sensitive and a very specific marker of ischemic heart disease in selected patients when using the resting ECG, and is of greatest value in those patients with lesser degrees of ischemic myocardial injury where the prevalence of Q waves is low.

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